- to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc.); form an edge or border on or around.
- to enclose or confine (usually followed by in, around, or about): hemmed in by enemies.
- an edge made by folding back the margin of cloth and sewing it down.
- the edge or border of a garment, drape, etc., especially at the bottom.
- the edge, border, or margin of anything.
- Architecture. the raised edge forming the volute of an Ionic capital.
Origin of hem1
- (an utterance resembling a slight clearing of the throat, used to attract attention, express doubt, etc.)
- the utterance or sound of “hem.”
- a sound or pause of hesitation: His sermon was full of hems and haws.
- to utter the sound “hem.”
- to hesitate in speaking.
- hem and haw,
- to hesitate or falter: She hemmed and hawed a lot before she came to the point.
- to speak noncommittally; avoid giving a direct answer: He hems and haws and comes out on both sides of every question.
Origin of hem2
Related Words for hemmingbeset, border, bound, cage, circle, circumscribe, confine, corral, define, edge, encircle, encompass, envelop, environ, fence, fringe, girdle, immure, margin, pen
Examples from the Web for hemming
Contemporary Examples of hemming
After some hemming and hawing, Yusaf finally replied with, “Why do you have to insult the Prophet?”Nine Things You Didn’t Know About Jon Stewart
July 6, 2014
After 500 pages of hemming and hawing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Roethlisberger was never criminally charged.The NFL's Silly Redemption Debate
January 26, 2011
“It was the only part of the script I was hemming and hawing over whether to use the language from the comic book,” Vaughn said.Hollywood Busts a Taboo
April 14, 2010
Historical Examples of hemming
You will note that allowance must be made for hemming the back edge of the mainsail.Boys' Book of Model Boats
Raymond Francis Yates
After that there were broken exclamations, and the coughing and hemming began again.The Manxman
Hemming plunged into an orgie of riotous living when you refused him.The Golden Woman
Hemming had been too long at sea not to know how to excite the spirit of seamen.
“Perhaps she has come down, and will be waiting for us at the bar,” observed Hemming.
- an edge to a piece of cloth, made by folding the raw edge under and stitching it down
- short for hemline
- to provide with a hem
- (usually foll by in, around, or about) to enclose or confine
Word Origin for hem
- a representation of the sound of clearing the throat, used to gain attention, express hesitation, etc
- (intr) to utter this sound
- hem and haw or hum and haw to hesitate in speaking or in making a decision
late 14c., "to provide (something) with a border or fringe" (surname Hemmer attested from c.1300), from hem (n.). Related: Hemmed; hemming. The phrase hem in "shut in, confine," first recorded 1530s.
Old English hem "a border," especially of cloth or a garment, from Proto-Germanic *hamjam (cf. Old Norse hemja "to bridle, curb," Swedish hämma "to stop, restrain," Old Frisian hemma "to hinder," Middle Dutch, German hemmen "to hem in, stop, hinder"), from PIE *kem- "to compress." Apparently the same root yielded Old English hamm, common in place names (where it means "enclosure, land hemmed in by water or high ground, land in a river bend"). In Middle English, hem also was a symbol of pride or ostentation.
If þei wer þe first þat schuld puplysch þese grete myracles of her mayster, men myth sey of hem, as Crist ded of þe Pharisees, þat þei magnified her owne hemmys. [John Capgrave, "Life of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham," 1451]
late 15c., probably imitative of the sound of clearing the throat. Hem and haw first recorded 1786, from haw "hesitation" (1630s; see haw (v.)); hem and hawk attested from 1570s.